Webinar – The face of modern medical learning!

As I browse through my recent messages, I come across a number of texts, all inviting me to join one or another WEBINAR. Was this term used so often before the pandemic? I really doubt that.

Medical education, and for that matter, in all fields of expertise, continued education is an elementary part. Established stalwarts of the fields come, share their knowledge and expertise. A few talk about new ways of doing things and their personalized methodology as well as guide the youngsters about pitfalls and future directions.

Before the lockdown, Continued Medical Education (CME) is a routine practice. Every weekend, or sometimes even midweek, multiple invitations to CME’s were a commonplace. CME’s more than events for dissemination of education and updated knowledge, were events to relish the free alcoholic drinks and network with who’s who in medical practice in your field.

WEBINAR – What’s new?

I, personally, as a delegate, have missed numerous CME’s and conferences. Sometimes due to hectic schedules or far-off venues or just unwillingness to attend long lectures at the end of the day.

With Webinars, updated knowledge, and newer cases and methodologies are available right on my table. I just have to log in, and I can be a part of a group of 200 people, interact over chat and learn new things. Also, I can freely ask more questions in the seminar. That too without interrupting the ongoing lecture, or feeling that my questions are out of line since now it is just a chat message.

The past three to four webinars that I have attended, had more than 150 participants each. With webinars happening almost every day, this is a very respectable number of attendees. I barely remember more than 100 attendees at any offline CME, except on the gala dinner night.

Webinars, seamless video conferencing, high-speed internet, and higher technological know-how amongst doctors is a game-changer. Furthermore, with more free time, more doctors are attracted to learning over Zoom from the leaders in their fields.

Then Why is there a growing dislike of Webinars?

Anything in excess is harmful. Offline seminars were never very intrusive. You could choose which ones to go, especially since they were less frequent. It was more of a necessary social interaction for doctors in an area. Also to know what is going around them, meet fellow doctors, make relations, and share knowledge. It was more like a weekend getaway.

Webinars are easier to organize. There is no major investment in terms of transport of faculty, stay of faculty, dinner and gala night preparations, booking of halls and technological inputs as well as stay for delegates sometimes. With no major investments, two to three webinars are being organized every day.

Sitting in front of a screen for more than an hour, and trying to grasp the complex concepts of bone healing and surgery is not an easy task. Regular usage of Zoom for webinars and prolonged hours spent looking at presentations leads to what I call the Zoom Fatigue. It just makes you hate, even the thought of attending another webinar, irrespective of how helpful or informative it would be.

In the end, I feel its a double-edged sword. I have attended about 5 webinars during this lockdown. The first three made me appreciate technology immensely. I was impressed with what we can achieve with a computer in our laps. In a latter couple of webinars, I began to develop Zoom Fatigue and started to leave webinars after half an hour or an hour at most.

I guess, we need to use this tool very cautiously so that it doesn’t run us into a deadlock, where we have this technology at hand but no-one to attend webinars.